Sunday, April 1, 2012


Story of the Angino Family at
303 Nahanton Street
Today’s Newton Community Farm
© March 2012, Lucy Caldwell-Stair

(The farm as it looked shortly after the City purchased it from the Anginos.)


The Farm Today
   In 2005, the Angino family sold the farm to the City of Newton which used Community Preservation Funds to make the purchase. The farm is now known as Newton Community Farm. The property has both land and historic conservation restrictions that require it stay as a farm with its historic landscape.
History of the Farm
    According to old maps of Newton, there has been a farmhouse at the corner of Nahanton and Winchester Streets since 1679. We don’t know much about the early owners or what occurred on the farm back then.  Maps indicate that from about the 1850s the Hall family owned the farm. David Hall, who lived on the property prior to the Anginos, was said to be a weaver.
    We do know a fair amount about the Angino family who moved to the farm in about 1917 and lived there until about 2002. This history is based on conversations with third generation family members, friends and others who knew the family, and documents from the archives of Historic Newton, the West Suburban YMCA and elsewhere.

# 1 Coming to America


   Michael Angino relates the story of his grandfather Crescenzo coming to America. In 1905, Crescenzo emigrated from Montaguto, a village in southern Italy in the Campania region of Italy north of Naples. His wife Lucia Ciasullo Angino was from nearby Greci, another hilltop village where people speak a dialect of Albanian (see section #12). The physical distance between the villages might have kept them strangers, except for Crescenzo meeting Lucia’s father when they were both in the army. The father helped arrange the marriage which took place February 20, 1901.  
   Crescenzo was 30 years old when he voyaged on his own to New York and on to the Boston area. Lucia and sons Francis and Antonio stayed in Greci, presumably with Lucia’s family. Crescenzo arrived at Ellis Island on March 13, 1905. The ship’s manifest listed his occupation as peasant and it indicated that he was able to read and write, paid for his own passage, and had seventeen dollars with him. At least three others from his village sailed on the same ship.

(Ship’s manifest – Crescenzo arrived at Ellis Island on March 12, 1905.)
 



   Years later, Crescenzo told his sons that the reason he left Italy was so they wouldn’t have to go into the army. Crescenzo had served in the cavalry, where he got the experience with horses that he would eventually parlay into a job in the U.S. Angino relative Cheryl Holcomb points out another possible reason: if Crescenzo weren’t the oldest son, he would not inherit any family land. He would be on his own to make a living.

# 2  The Early Years (1905-1917)

   When Crescenzo arrived in America, he joined relatives who had immigrated earlier. According to the passenger list recorded at Ellis Island, he was headed to meet a "Gennaro" Anzivino on Dedham Street in the Oak Hill section of south Newton. His contact was probably actually his brother-in-law "Leonardo" Anzivino, who was married to Crescenzo’s sister Maria Michela Angino. Leonardo had left Montaguto for New York in 1902, according to another Ellis Island ship manifest.
  According to a letter at the Newton History Museum a Leonardo "Angivino" lived at Appleton Farm, one of William Sumner Appleton’s farms that stood at the southeast corner of Brookline and Dedham Streets. Probably another missspelling, this person is presumably Leonardo "Anzivino."

   Lucia’s manifest from her arrival a couple of years after Crescenzo adds to the confusion. It says that she was planning to join Crescenzo, not in Newton, but at 3 North Square, Boston.

   Inaccuracies in the spelling the names of immigrants and other facts, even in official records, seem to have been common at the time.
   In any case, Crescenzo likely lived and worked initially on Appleton Farm with his sister's husband Leonardo Anzivino. (The farmhouse was later used as a tea house that raised funds for the Peabody Home up the hill and later moved to the Mt. Ida College campus where it serves as the president’s house. It is known as the Murdock-Wiswall House.)
(Crescenzo may have worked first at this farm owned by the Appleton family. Photo may have been taken in 1927 by William Sumner Appleton.)

    According to a taped interview with Rose Angino Mitchell in about 2002, the family lived in a former schoolhouse located at the corner of Dedham and Brookline Streets. The small wood building had been Newton’s second schoolhouse starting in the 1850s.  Rose said that she and three of her older brothers were born here and lived here until moving onto their farm on Nahanton Street.

   Across the street from the Anginos was the larger brick schoolhouse that replaced the old school. This is where the Angino children first attended school.

   "My mother came here and she was so thrilled to see there was a schoolhouse right across from our house.  She wasn't dumb."

  This school building fell out of use when an even larger school was built around 1937 for Oak Hill. It was used as a doctor’s office and then torn down. 

(The Anginos lived in this old schoolhouse in Oak Hill from about 1905 to 1917.)

  
#3 The Farm and the Family Economy (1917-1940’s)
 
    Crescenzo (who was called Christy) worked for many years at the Shaw estate across Nahanton Street from his farm. The Shaw family bought the Appleton estate in 1908-1909, which may have included the Appleton farm where Crescenzo first worked. According to Angino grandchildren, Shaw hired Crescenzo because of his ability to handle horses. (See section #4 for more about the Shaw family.)
 
    Crescenzo bought his 2.2 acre farm in 1917. The grandchildren are not sure how Crescenzo was able to acquire it.  Shaw may have given or advanced funds to Crescenzo. One family story says that he bought it for $3,000 he had saved. The property deed says that Crescenzo had bought it from the heirs of David Hall on July 17, 1917, according to Ted Chapman, an Newton Community Farm volunteer who researched the property's history.
 
    By this time, the family had expanded to seven children.  Antonio (Tony) and Francis were born in Italy; Jerry, Ernest, Rose were born in Newton before moving to Nahanton Street; their last child, Julia (Virginia), was born at the farm in 1917.
 
(The 1920 census says Crescenzo was a renter, not an owner, of the house; he  had a mortgage; and all seven children had been born in MA, information that conflicts with other sources. Census lists another Italian  and his family living at 322 Nahanton who is listed as a laborer working on a private estate, probably the Shaw Estate. )

    When the Anginos started farming for themselves, their economic situation must have improved. Here the family could grow most of their own food and sell extra produce at food markets while Crescenzo continued to work for the Shaws. Shaw allowed the Anginos use of his fields across the street to grow additional crops and keep cows.
 
    Crescenzo could get horse manure to fertilize his field from the Shaw horse barns. In later years, when the Shaw estate no longer existed Crescenzo may have gotten his manure from the poor farm on Winchester Street in what is now Nahanton Park. 
 
    The family was frugal and reused everything they could.  One of the few staples they had to buy was wheat that came in bags that were recycled as bedsheets and pillowcases. Granddaughter Joan Melville remembers sleeping on this prickly bedding in the 1940s. She also remembers Crescenzo using an old hand plow in addition to horse drawn and motorized tractors. The plow was found in the barn after the City of Newton acquired the property. Historians from Sturbridge Village dated it to the 1850s.

(Crescenzo was still using this 1850s plow in the 1950s.)
 

    Crescenzo had brought tomato seeds with him from Italy. The Anginos also grew corn, beans, and radishes and harvested apples and pears from the fruit trees near the farmhouse.
(Apple and pear trees by the house were a source of jams and jellies.)  

    They made wine from the grapevines that still hang from the fence.
(Grapevines that the Anginos planted for wine and fruit are still thriving today.)  

    The chickens were raised for eggs and meat and lived in the red painted chicken coops still on the farm today.
(The farm’s chicken coops are still in use.)
   
   The family made their own pasta, butter, and jam. They canned tomatoes, beans, and blueberries and cooked on a huge wood stove in the kitchen. Their wine press was still in the basement when the farm was sold to the City in 2005.


    According to building permits Crescenzo obtained from the City, he added or upgraded bathrooms and bedrooms to the house during these years.

   "When my father bought the farm from the Halls, he had to do a lot of work on the house and the barn," said Rose.
    Crescenzo buried money on the farm for safekeeping, and he made loans to newly arrived Italians. He sponsored at least one relative from Montaguto, Alfredo Angino, who was his nephew or half brother, according to Alfredo’s granddaughter Cheryl Homcomb. Alfredo was born in 1904. After arriving in New York in 1921, he went to live with the Anginos and by 1932 had moved to Connecticut (see section #6).


   Crescenzo's sister and brother-in-law Leonardo and Maria Anzivino eventually got their own farm, Walnut Hill Farm in south Brookline not far from the Anginos. The Anzivinos kept cows and had trucks for delivering milk to area homes. They relocated their dairy operations to Cochituate in the 1930s.
   
# 4 The Shaws and the Shaw Estate
 
    Any story of the Anginos must include their connection with the Shaws, an influential Boston Brahmin family. Crescenzo’s employer, Robert Gould Shaw II, was a first cousin of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, the famous Civil War commander of the 54th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry of African-American soldiers. Robert II’s mother was Pauline Agassiz, daughter of the Harvard natural historian Jean Louis Agassiz. His father had made an estimated $30 million in cooper mining out West. In 1909 they bought the 245-acre Appleton estate on Nahanton Street for their son, a property the Appletons had formed from 14 separate parcels around 1872.  
    Robert set about developing his country estate, which he called Boulder Farm. By 1913, he had built an English style manor house, Shaw Hall. He also constructed an impressive stable for his polo ponies and developed polo fields where he put on frequent matches for his friends.

(Crescenzo’s employer Robert Shaw built Shaw Hall in 1913. Photo:Historical Campus Architectural Project, Council of Independent Colleges.)


    Years before he moved to Newton, Robert and his first wife Nancy Witcher Hanghorne had divorced. In 1919, Nancy was living in England and became the famous Lady Aster, the outspoken first woman to serve as a member of Parliament in the British House of Commons.  Robert’s second wife was Mary Hannington, former wife of Charles Henry Convers.  It was this second Mrs. Shaw who lived with Robert on the Shaw estate. They probably had one just one son.
    Lucia was a wet nurse for the Shaw’s baby son, even when working in the fields, says Joan. Mrs. Shaw chose the name for Crescenzo’s youngest daughter, naming her Julia Virginia. Son Francis worked with the polo ponies, transporting them to matches at the Myopia Hunt Club in Hamilton, MA on the North Shore. When polo games were held on the Shaw’s fields, the guests’ horses were boarded in the Angino barn, said Rose.
 
    “The Shaws were good to the Angino family,” says granddaughter Joan.  Shaw provided Crescenzo with a steady job on the estate, use of fields on the estate for Crescenzo’s cows and crops, and possibly assistance with acquiring Angino farm.
 
    Robert’s life of as a wealthy member of the leisure class was described in a New York Times article on October 20, 1913, “Society Man, Giving Up Clubs, Keeps Cows at a Profit.” He enjoyed his foray into country life so much that he gave up “clubs, yachts, and races” for dairy farming.
 
    Robert was known to be a womanizer who drank too much. When he wanted to call up a lady friend out of his wife’s earshot, he came over the Angino’s to use their phone, said Rose. He was member of the Charles River Country Club, which opened in 1921.
 
    He died in 1930. Around that time the Shaw fortune collapsed. In later years the family experienced much tragedy. The estate was largely vacated by his widow and son(s) and left to decay, although Crescenzo may have continued to work on the estate until it was bought by Mt. Ida College in 1937.
 
 #5 Memories of Growing Up on the Farm
    Since all seven of Crescenzo and Lucia’s children had died before this research was done, what is known about their lives on the farm comes from stories they told to their children, Crescenzo and Lucia’s grandchildren.  The exception is a 2002 interview with Rose Angino Mitchell (then aged 85) conducted by family friend Paul Murphy. Today the grandchildren are in their 50s, 60s, and 70s. Many still live in the greater Boston area. The “children” in this section refer to Tony, Francis, Michael, Jerry, Ernest, Rose, and Julia who were born between 1905 and 1917.


    The Angino children had many chores to do on the farm.  Like their cousin Rose Anzivino in Brookline, they were probably sent out to the woods to gather wild mushrooms and dandelions for salad greens.  “We Italians weren’t like the other kids. What we ate was different.” she says.

    The Angino boys had newspaper routes, and they delivered the milk (unpasteurized) door-to-door to customers. They worked as caddies at the Charles River Country Club. Money earned was turned over to their parents. 

   "My brothers were good workers," said Rose. "They knew how to do everything."
    Family members sold produce at Quincy Market in downtown Boston. It was fun to crank up the engine, jump into the truck, and head down to Boston. “It was a big treat,” says a grandchild, “If you were good during the week, you could ride in to Boston to market.”
 
    "None of the seven children spoke Italian. In those days everyone was eager to assimilate,"says grandson Michael. They attended Mason School when it was located in Newton Center on today’s municipal parking lot. They rode to school in an open horse-drawn cart they called the school bus.The children packed food and wine for lunch. At the school, the horses could drink water from the elegant stone horse trough at the corner of Beacon and Center Streets. Today it is planted with flowers. 

    The family attended Mass at the Working Boys Home (now the Jewish Community Center) because it was more convenient than going to the nearest Catholic church.
     Rose remembers the Lacy family who lived next door in the house at the top of the hill that is now the community center for Ledgebrook Townhomes. Mr. Lacy was an executive at Filenes who enjoyed the country life. Like other such country estates, it was in part a working farm.  The oldest of his four children were close in age to the Angino children.

   The youngest child, Ann Lacy (b. 1932) says that the sloping front yard was a hay meadow.  One of her memories is haying time when residents of the poor farm from around the corner on Winchester Street would come over:

   "People from the poorhouse would mow the front lawn for my father. They got to keep the hay, for their cows. One fellow Perry, who couldn't control the outflow of money for alcohol, was skilled with horses. He'd let me ride on the workhorses while he mowed."

   Rose also remembers the poor farm. She liked to play with the daughter of the superintendent.  (Although the poorhouse was demolished in about the 1950s, there still remains a brick outbuilding at the circular drive at Nahanton Park’s Winchester Street entrance.)

   "I remember the poor people there," said Rose.  "There were a lot of them, around 25 of them. They had a farm and they grew everything. A man named Leo lived on Vine Street and he was an odd person.  He died at the poor house.  When you take a parent away from his family, you don't think he's going to live, do you?"
 
  # 6 Three Generations on the Farm: The 1940s
 
    Granddaughter Joan lived on the farm with her parents for the first five years of her life from 1939 to 1944 and then for subsequent summers and visits.

(Granddaughter Joan Melville, Auntie Rose, and her grandparents.)

    Her father Ernest had eloped with an Irish girl. Initially, neither family was happy to see a marriage outside their ethnic group, says Joan.
    Joan remembers that at one point there were 14 people living on the farm: (1) Crescenzo, (2) Lucia,  (3) Joan, (4) Joan’s father Ernest, (5) Joan’s mother Phoebe, (6) Rose, (7) Rose’s husband Joseph, (8) Rose’s son Jay, (9) Jerry, (10) Julia, (11) Alfredo Angino, Cresecenzo’s cousin or half brother, (12) Alfredo’s wife, (13) Alfredo’s son Donald, and (14) Alfredo’s son Ernest, born in 1932 and named for Crescenzo’s son Ernest. It is not known  where they all slept!

(Rose returned to the farm during World War II with son Jay.)

    Cousins Donald and Ernest spent 14 summers working on the farm as kids. Ernest would have to wake up at 5 a.m. to start work.  At break time he and the other workers would eat pork chops and apple pie. When he came into the farmhouse for lunch Rose would have a big spread of steaming hot pies.
    In those days, the farmhouse was completely wood framed painted yellow. The brickwork seen today was put in later. (see section #9). Two large elm trees graced the front yard. 


(Beautiful elm trees shaded the farmhouse. Is that Crescenzo sitting on the porch steps?)

    Nahanton Street was much closer to the house. It was a narrow, curvy, dirt road. It was straightened out in the 1950s or 1960s when Continental Can proposed building a big facility across the Charles River in Needham near where the Fed Ex and Coca Cola buildings are now.


(Evidence of old Nahanton Street in front of the farmhouse today.)
 
    Even in the 1940s it seems that Crescenzo continued to farm on two parcels across the road. The land may have still been owned by the Shaw family, although they had sold much of their estate by then.  According to Joan, some of the crop was for the Shaws, some for Anginos, and Crescenzo kept his cows over there, too.
 
    There were other exciting places to explore – a quarry, a pond, a polo field. There was a saw mill built following the hurricane of 1938 to cut up fallen trees. Some of this land was by then owned by Mt. Ida College.
 
    For spring planting, Crescenzo would borrow two blind horses and hitch them to a plow. He used an old hand plow for other work. He kept chickens and pullets in the chicken coops, cows in the upper barn, and pigs in the barn’s lower level.
 
    On Sundays the whole family was at the farm for a big meal. Everything was cooked in spaghetti sauce. There would always be a spaghetti dish with some sort of meat. “You never knew what was in it.  Sometimes turtle,” says Joan, “I knew when my mother didn’t eat it, it was a pet.  Once it was the pet rabbit.”
 
    In the living room, Crescenzo had his special chair that no one else was allowed to sit in. Lucia was strict with the grandchildren, at times “a holy terror,” said one.
 
    The Angino's sold fresh vegetables, fruit, and jellies on site. Joan remembers people coming to the front door of the house and Lucia taking them to the store in the lower level of the barn. Lucia would pretend she could neither understand English nor make change, hoping to just round up the prices.
 
    A Native American family lived down by the Charles River. They were thought of as gypsies. Joan was scared of the mother but liked to play with the daughter. In the summers the family would go to Hampton Beach, NH to sell trinkets.
 
    When Crescenzo stopped working for Shaw, he received a lifetime pension, says Joan, but is not sure when this was. Crescenzo was already 55 years old when Robert Gould Shaw died in 1930.
 
    Rose worked at the tea house that operated out of the old Appleton farmhouse down the hill from the New England Peabody Home for Crippled Children that had opened in 1922.

   "Everyone around here wanted to make a little money," said Rose.

   Mrs. Wright operated the tea house and lived in the house. Sometimes guests who spend the night in the bedrooms upstairs. This is the Appleton farm where Crescenzo probably worked when he first arrived in the United States. Rose also worked as telephone operator and as an aide at the Peabody Home. 
 
    Frances became a member of the Charles River Country Club in 1945, where years before he had worked as a caddy to help out his family. He continued as a member for the rest of his life.
 
(Julia with son Steven, left, and daughter Jeannie on hood?  Rose with son Jay. 2/15/45)

(Julia’s husband Eddie driving tractor? Undated.)



Unidentified woman, man and boy.)

(Unidentified women on back steps. Undated.)
 
(Unidentified man standing on ramp to barn door.)

  #7 Family Members as Adults
(Crescenzo and Lucia with their seven children probably at their 51st wedding anniversary celebration in 1952.)

    Crescenzo (Cristy) lived from 1874-1966 and Lucia from 
1875-1972. They had seven children:  
1. Tony (Antonio), 1903-1962
  Known as Tony, he didn’t marry until late in life. He died at age 59. According to family members, he waited to marry a woman who couldn’t get her first marriage annulled. He didn’t have any children.
 
2. Francis C. Angino, 1905-1995
  Francis was born in Italy. He attended the Lowell Institute. He started Mass Electric and made it a multimillion dollar contracting company (see section #11). While working with Mass Electric, he built locks in the Panama Canal and worked for a Venezuelan oil company. He had two kids, one named Michael.
3. Michael, 1908–1983
  Michael worked at Mass Electric with Francis and other family members. He had two kids.
4. Jerry (Ruggiero), 1909 - 1998
   Jerry attended Newton High School and in 1932 went to Fitchburg State Teacher’s College. He worked many years in Newton schools as truant officer and counselor and was one of founders of the Newton Boys Club. He never married (see section #10). He lived on the farm his entire life.
 
5. Ernest, 1912-1994
   Ernest worked as an electrician at Mass Electric.  He was very active in the Newton Y (see section #9). He had four kids: Joan Melville, Nancy Laffey, Philip Angino, and Judy Brown.
 
6. Rose, 1915 -- 2002
   Rose lived on the farm most of her life. Her son Jay says she moved from Somerville back to the farm around 1943 when her husband Joseph went into World War II.  She had two kids: Jay Mitchell and Jeannie Sanderson. When Joseph returned from the war, the family stayed on at the farm for a time (see sections #8 and 10).
 
7. Julia (Virginia) 1917 –2009
   Julia graduated from Newton High School in 1934. In the early years of Mass Electric, she ran the downtown office (see section #11). She had three kids: Steven Vercollone, Christine Slaats, and Carl Vercollone.  
#8 The Farm Continues Operating in the 1950s
 
    By the 1950s, Crescenzo and Lucia were in their 70s. Auntie Rose “ran that house,” says granddaughter Christine Slaats. She remembers that Crescenzo and Lucia spoke Italian in the house and sometimes Auntie Rose translated for the grandchildren. “She was a wonderful, kind, caring, good person,” she says.
 
    Rose’s husband Joseph had come back from World War II and began working at the (Newton?) post office. Rose, Joseph, and son Jay continued to live on the farm.
 
    The tradition of Sunday dinners with extended family continued. Always there was pasta and often chicken. And always there was work to be done. 
 
    “Everybody worked, young and old,” says grandson Jay.  “There wasn’t a person here that didn’t work.  Even my cousins came on Sunday, and they worked when they came.”
 
    “Auntie Rose would strap containers around our waists and we were sent across the street to pick wild blueberries.  We couldn’t come home until we’d picked a lot,” says Christine.
 
    The Anginos knew other Italian families in the area.  Rose Valente lived farther down Nahanton Street in the small brown house near a pond. She told Newton Community Farm manager Greg Maslowe that several Italian families worked on the Shaw Estate at the same time Crescenzo labored there.
 
    The family was friendly with the Volantes, the same family that currently operates a farm and farm store in Needham.  The Volantes got started in farming in Newton. By 1917 they had a 55-acre, all-irrigated farm at 391 Dedham Street, a short walk across the golf course from the Anginos
 
    In February 1952, Christy and Lucia celebrated their 51st wedding anniversary. The old couple was quoted   in a newspaper article, “How We Did It." They said:

   “A few years after our marriage in Avellino, Italy, on February 20, 1901, we were among the fortunate Italian immigrants to make America our permanent home.
 
    “We selected Newton, and have greatly enjoyed these past 45 years farming in Oak Hill.  Although we traveled to South America and parts of the U.S. we found that no place could quite equal the humble living we so enjoy on our little farm in Newton.
 
    “God has been good to us and blessed us with a good family of seven children, five boys and two girls. Anthony, living in Newton; Francis and Michael both of Newton Centre, Miami, Fla, and Caracas, Venezuela; Jerry in Oak Hill; Ernest in West Roxbury; Mrs. Joseph Mitchell in Oak Hill, and Mrs. Edmund Veciolone (ed: should be Vercollone) of Arlington.
 
    “Our secret of happiness is team work in all activities, simplicity of living, with emphasis on the protection of health.”
  # 9  Jerry
    “Jerry started as an industrial arts teacher at Day Junior High then became Superintendent of School Attendance,” says Jay Mitchell. His job as truant officer evolved with the times into guidance counselor. Jerry gave kids structured work on the farm during the summers. He worked for 32 years in the Newton schools.



(Jerry Angino. Undated.)

      One person who thinks the world of Jerry is Newton Community Farm volunteer Vaunita Schnell. She and Jerry were colleagues when she was a career guidance counselor in Newton schools. 
 
     “Jerry was the most intelligent gentleman and forthright, dedicated counselor that I’ve ever known,” she says. “He knew Newton, every inch of it, and where every two-family house was.  He knew every child who didn’t have a father, and he worried about them and tried to do what he could for them. There are a million people around who can talk about what he did for them.”
  
    “I could never get a speeding ticket in Newton.  The cop would say, ‘You’re an Angino? Jerry Angino got me through school,' ” says grandson Michael. A number of “Jerry's kids” work today in Newton’s police and public works departments.

    Jerry lived on the farm his entire life. He persuaded his father to use a tractor instead of the hand plows. He got firewood from his old “kids” who would drop it off as they came across it in the work for the City.
    Old timers at the Newton Y still remember how Jerry looked out for them when they were young.  Farm volunteer Ted Chapman spoke with some in 2006.  Here are some of their comments:
 
    “When we skipped school he always knew where to find us.”
    “Kids looked up to him like a God, he would look after them, especially the Italian ones; you look after your own…”
    “He would take a dozen troubled boys, to work on the farm every summer to get them straightened out...”
    “The farm was run like it was 100 years ago, wood heat and stuff.”
   
# 10 Later Years (1960s-1990s)
 
    As housing developments replaced open space, the Angino’s farm ended up as Newton's last farm.

   “I’d often see Jerry out working the land,” says Barbara LaValle, who worked at the West Suburban YMCA and knew the Anginos. “They always took great care of the property. It was important to them. There was such a love of the land. They had a phenomenal work ethic. There was incredible family love there. They were close-knit.”
 
    With help from grandson Jay, Jerry and Rose continued farming corn and other crops until about 1985. 
 
    “Jerry sold the best tomatoes and zinnias,” says Newton resident Vaunita Schnell. Others extol the sween corn sold at summer’s end. 
 
    “Jerry put brick on the side of the house using spare brick he got hold of,” says Joan.  “He did it because he didn’t want to paint it! He also put the siding on the barn.” (The siding was removed by Newton Community Farm to protect the wood shingles underneath from trapped moisture.)
 
    Rose stayed on at the farm. Barbara remembers visiting the farm in the 1990s. “I used to visit Rose at the farm. We would sit in the kitchen. That was probably the heart and soul of the house. There was a big wood stove.  We’d have tea and Italian cookies.  She was warm and very gracious.”
 
    Lucia and daughter Rose loved flowers.  The flowers for Rose’s daughter’s wedding came from the farm.
 
    Crescenzo and Lucia both lived long lives. In later years, Lucia sometimes complained that she was “living too long.”  Crescenzo died in 1966 at age 92, and Lucia died in 1972 at age 97. They are buried in Newton Cemetery in family plots with Antonio, Ernest, Julia, Francis, Jerry, Michael and spouses.
 
    Angino family members were active at the Newton YMCA, especially Ernie. He worked in nearby Brighton at Mass Electric and would join a noontime workout group at the Y. In 1993 the Y dedicated a race to him and Jerry called the Angino Memorial Road Race and Family Field Day.

(Ernest accepting an award at the Y. A road race was started in his name in 1993.)



The Angino Room for babysitting was dedicated on March 25, 2001. Over 31 Anginos came to the Y for the event.
(The Angino family at the 2001 dedication of the Angino Room at the West Suburban YMCA in Newton.)

 
   

# 11 Mass. Electric and the American Dream
 
    In 1928, Francis (age 25) and his brother Michael (age 20) started Mass. Electric. The company grew to be one of the biggest electrical contractors in the U.S. with sales of $350 million in 1995, according to grandson Michael.  “The family came over and lived the American dream,” he says.
 
    Francis funded the company with money from his father. Some family members think Crescenzo gave him as much as $50,000; others say it was less.
 
    Francis got training at the Lowell Institute, said to be a sort of MIT night school. By the late 1920s he was working in New York City for an electrical firm that wanted him to set up a branch office in Boston.  Francis figured if his employers considered him qualified to do so, he should go start his own business. 
 
    Mass Electric was first located was on Tremont Street in Boston.  Frances used the barn as a warehouse. A roomful of electrical equipment was still in the barn when the City acquired the farm.
 
    Julia was office manager, working while pregnant up right up to deliverying her first child Steven in about 1943. Other family members also worked at Mass. Electric. Besides Michael and Julia, Tony worked as a machinist, Ernie as an electrician. Later, grandkids also had jobs there.
 
    The company was involved in the electrical aspects of railroads. In 1956 it worked on the Highland branch (the D Line) when it became part of the MBTA.  The company did similar work in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta, Dallas. Francis and Michael worked in Venezuela on company projects.
 
    Mass Electric was sold to Peter Kiewit Sons’ Inc. in Omaha, NE. It now operates as a wholly owned subsidiary with offices in numerous states. It continues to do contracting work for power plants, water treatment facilities, public transportation, and alternative energy such as wind and solar.
#12 Visiting Italian Roots
 
    At some point, Julia went to Italy to visit Crescenzo’s home village of Montaguto. She found that most of Angino relatives had left long ago. The town has been largely rebuilt after an earthquake.
 
    In 2001, Joan visited Lucia’s hometown of Greci. It is still a small village. Many of its people, too, left for America in the later 19th and early 20th centuries.
 
    People still speak an Albanian dialect in Greci. The village was one of a number of settlements established in 1400s to give Albanian soldiers a secure place to live far from the struggles of the Ottoman Empire.
 
     Joan says the town has telephones and some electricity, but no TV and not much running water. Women she met rarely leave the village, and they buy clothes from traveling salesmen.

(A contemporary photo of Greci, the village where Lucia came from.)

    After the trip Joan mailed photos back to relatives she had met in Greci. She wanted to use FedEx instead of the postal service, thinking it would be safer. But no one in the village had ever seen a Fed Ex truck come up their mountain road.  They were very worried the package was a bomb. 
(For more on Greci go to this website, “Greci, Italy – Cousins Site” for Italian-Americans whose families emigrated from Greci.  http://www.grecicousins.com/1.html )

# 13 Notes




Researched and written by Lucy Caldwell-Stair. Interviews took place in the summer and fall of 2011.

Sources   1. NewTV video “Saving Newton’s Last Farm” Vaunita Schnell interviewing Jay Mitchell
http://blip.tv/environmental-show/saving-newton-s-last-farm-1528637
2. Masterplan for Newton Community Farm, by Ted Chapman, 2006.
3. Mt. Ida at 100: Tradition Enhanced by Innovation, by Richard H. and Sandra J. Glessner, 2000.
4. Files at Historic Newton at the Jackson Homestead, 527 Washington Street, Newton, MA, 02458.

5. Interviews with Angino relatives, neighbors, and others: Joan Melville, Michael Angino, Christine Slaats, Paul Murphy, Duffy Brent, Cheryl Holcomb, Vaunita Schnell, Ann Lacy and Rose Anzivino.

6. Taped interview with Rose Angino Mitchell done by Paul Murphy, about 2002.

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